Before the arrival of Nigerian musicians like WizKid, 2Face and Banky W, there were others that rocked the musical scene in the years before and after Nigeria’s colonial emancipation from Britain. Interestingly, the songs they render are evergreen and continue to resonate in the minds of many both at home and abroad.
Jovago editor Ogunfowoke Adeniyi identifies 5 musicians who made their mark in the 1970s
Stephen Osita Osadebe
The tunes of Osadebe are highly influenced by the sounds of rich Igbo traditional culture.
His stage performances of highlife music are a spectacle to watch as the audience stayed hooked at the night clubs he performed around the world. His most popular hit Osondi Owendi, which means “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”, was produced in 1984.
More legendary musicians in the next pages
Popularly called the Guitar Boy, the Benin-born artists cut his teeth in the music scene by singing about his encounter will a certain mermaid in the song Mami water(mermaid). Most notable is the widely received classic, Joromi.
Surprisingly, the 74-year-old musician, writer and sculptor is not tired of churning out good tunes as he recently featured 2Face Idibia in the song Tupepe.
CHRISTIE ESSIEN IGBOKWE
Christie Igbokwe was one of the few women that both entertained and thought life lessons with their music. Though born in Akwa Ibom, she was flawless in her ability to communicate fluently in English, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Ibibio.
Thus, it was not surprising to many Nigerians that the songs that won her public acclaim, Seun Rere, was voiced in Yoruba language. Her acceptance broke the cultural and ethnic barriers; a rarity for Nigerian artistes. She was the first female Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) and won a handful of awards in her lifetime
King Sunny Adeniyi (KSA)
His prowess in his genre of music earned him the title ‘King of Juju’ and ‘Minister of Enjoyment’. The Osogbo born musician is known for his energetic dance steps and proverbial lyrics which has endeared him to many music lovers.
Most of his songs are rendered in Yoruba language and he has collaborated with A-list artists like Manu Dibango, Stevie Wonder and Youssou N’Dour. His album Synchro System brought him one of his greatest achievements by being nominated in the Grammy awards in the folk/ethnic category.
Fela Kuti (OLUFELA OLUSEGUN OLUDOTUN RANSOME-KUTI)
Everybody knows Fela. However, what many people think about his personality vary.
His struggles with the government distinguished him from other Nigerian artistes as he was in and out of prison due to his unconventional and uncompromising lifestyle. Interestingly, Fela did not call people to flood the streets of Lagos to protest rather, he condemned the government with his hard hitting music whose lyrics appalled state authorities.
As his Afrobeat music was being suppressed in Nigeria, he gained international publicity while Nigerians continued to appreciate his music. His musical escapades even took the life of his mother, but this did not deter the carefree Fela.
Today, his music lives on as many themes he sang about are becoming a reality as a result, he his tagged a prophet by some Nigerians. Some of his songs include Zombie, Expensive shit, Water no get enemy and Sorrow, Tears and Blood amongst others. Fela is indeed an Afrobeat legend.